Colourful paper towel butterflies
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Craft These Colourful Paper Towel Butterflies To Celebrate Spring

May 15, 2018

At long last, it feels like spring has arrived here in southern Ontario, so the weather finally matches the mood we’ve been in at the craft table these past few weeks.

There are so many wonderful colourful things to create in spring, and one of our favourite things to make is a creative butterfly craft.

Completed paper towel butterflies

Every year, we use a different technique to make colourful spring butterflies to hang in our playroom. Last year, we made these gorgeous symmetry-painted butterflies, and this year, we’ve turned to one of our favourite art techniques to make these adorable paper towel butterflies.

This process involves liquid watercolours. If you’ve never used them with your kids, you must give them a try! The colours are so vibrant, and they can be applied full strength or diluted with a bit of water.

Our favourite way to use liquid watercolours is to drip or brush them onto a piece of paper towel. It’s a wonderful way for kids to observe water absorption and colour blending. And when medicine droppers are used to drip the colours, kids have an opportunity to strengthen their fine motor skills and co-ordination. The children love to watch the colours spread as the paper towel soaks them up, and the results are always stunning.

This art technique is great for preschoolers, but easy enough that toddlers can get in on the action too. And don’t kid yourself — older kids will love the process as well. Heck, even I love it, and may have had just as much fun as the kids did with our butterfly project today.

The materials you'll need to make paper towel butterflies


What You’ll Need:

  • paper towels
  • liquid watercolours
  • water
  • ice cube tray
  • medicine droppers and/or fine paint brushes
  • pipe cleaners
  • paper towel rolls
  • black paint
  • googly eyes
  • transparent tape
  • glue
  • pen
  • scissors

To begin, we squirted several shades of our liquid watercolours into the sections of an ice cube tray. We added a little water to soften our colours a little. Then each child tore two paper towels off the roll. We were using paper towels that tear into half sheets. If yours are full sheets, you can cut each sheet in two. We used two pieces of paper towel for each butterfly: one for the two top wings and one for the bottom two wings.

Before moving on to the next step, be sure to protect your table with a plastic table cloth or have the children place their paper towels on a baking sheet.

Putting watercolour on the paper towel

Now for the fun part! The kids brushed and dripped the liquid watercolours all over their paper towels until they were covered entirely with colour. The children always find this process fascinating. They love watching the colours seep and spread as the paper towel drinks them up.

Colourful paper towel beside black-painted paper towel rolls

We let our paper towels dry in the sunshine while we moved on to make our butterflies’ bodies. For the bodies, we cut our paper towel rolls into various lengths, and painted them black.

Painted paper towel that's been scrunched into wings

When everything was dry, we transformed our paper towels into butterfly wings. We gently crumpled our paper towels to give them a crinkly look, then flattened them out again. Then we pinched each one in the middle and gave it a twist to form our wings.

Taping the paper towel wings onto the black paper towel roll

We attached our wings to the backside of the paper towel rolls with tape.

Next, we added our antennae. We used a pen to poke two holes in each paper towel roll and pushed pipe cleaners through the holes, then we gave them a twist and trimmed them to size. Then we bent our pipe cleaners into spirals.

Completed paper towel butterflies

To finish, we glued on a couple of colourful googly eyes.

Aren’t they adorable? You can add some string to your butterflies to suspend them from the ceiling, or simply line them up on a window sill.

Either way, they’re a welcome sight and a wonderful reminder that spring has finally sprung.

Article Author Jackie Currie
Jackie Currie

Read more from Jackie here.

Jackie Currie is a mother, daycare provider, and the creative spirit behind the blog Happy Hooligans. A self-proclaimed glitterphobe, she specializes in easy, affordable arts & crafts and good, old-fashioned play.

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